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Old 08-23-2006, 11:04 AM   #1

by Benjamin Ong Pang Kean

Newsarama note: thumbnails link to images which are not work safe or appropriate for all ages.

Last week saw the release of issue #8 of Mario Gully’s Ant. No big deal, you say?

Well, it was if you’re a retailer thinking it was appropriate for all ages, or a kid reading it for the first time.

While Ant’s been labeled as a pure T&A book by critics and non-fans alike, the series has never been this… exposed.

“Issue #8 was the first book that profanity and nudity was ever in Ant in this manner,” creator Mario Gully told Newsarama. “I am not against swearing in my book but in this issue, it was clearly excessive. Also, there is a stripper scene that was a little rough. This, combined with the fact retailers weren't forewarned… upset many fans and distributors. I have received e-mails and much criticisms. Distributors whom I respect mentioned that the issue was offensive and a shock to unexpecting fans.

“My book has been pretty racy but it always was story-driven. In this case, some of the elements got out of hand and it was a bad call on my part. I almost believe that any comic with a nice looking and well developed girl will be labeled T&A. Some will disagree. I don't have a problem with that. But in this particular story, I introduced some rough characters - characters from a different background than what has been seen in the book to date, and sometimes you go too far.”

How will this affect what's coming up? Just who is Gully reaching out to with his Ant series? “There will be major changes in my book,” Gully admitted. “Major. I have spent hours working out the issues that I just mentioned. The art will be more focused with the storyline I originally conceived. People will see a difference in future issues. This is my book, my creation, and I am the one who, in the end, is responsible. I am changing the writing direction on this book which will not ignore my original fans while giving new readers a more focused book that will bring them back to the original Ant days. Image is a company that has always been a place for creators to do great things and this issue wasn't so great and that was my fault.

“First off, this issue will be edited in the trade paperback,” he continued. “The book will be corrected there and the profanity and nudity won't happen again. Secondly, I am going to give every retailer [not customers] who want to return unsold issue #8s a refund. The books can be sent to an address I am providing and I will personally reimburse them for the price they had to pay Diamond. Let me make this clear; that I myself, not Image, will return [to] the retailers per unit cost. The reason why this offer is only available to retailers is that I could never afford to pay for all [the] issues at the cover price. I would like to thank retailers for supporting me with my work and I apologize for this issue. I am proud of the work and characters I have created but have to leave my bubble every once in a while.

With Joe Keatinge previously announced as coming on board as co-writer, how does this incident affect the future of the series? “Well, I can't really can't release any future stuff from Ant more than we did about 1992. To be honest, I have put a halt to Ant #9. I've had to re-think this issue and future issues based on what happened with issue #8. The story needs to be altered a bit and the pages I drew won't be used. I will be glad to send new stuff once it's developed.

“I'm not saying that 1992 would have had more T&A shots. I don't know because I draw what I feel like drawing. Well, I did. I think it's time for me to get serious with this book. I'm making tweaks because I feel that Ant has gotten away from me. I feel that Ant is totally different from my original concept

“I guess my eyes were opened when the complaints from issue #8 came in,” he admitted. “This started off as a character based off of my daughter and truthfully, I feel that I got side tracked by what will be more widely accepted from comic book fans, rather than what was truly in my heart. I can't do that anymore.

“The overall story will convert back to my original concept where the characters and the story driven plots were driving the series. I lost that somehow. But enough is enough. Starting with issue #9.”

Retailers wishing to return unsold copies of Ant #8 can mail them to Gully at:

Mario Gully
Attention: ANTHILL

Gully’s e-mail is: Anthill@imagecomics.com
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